Two words that can make my pulse race: Yard sale. (Häagen-Dazs is one word, right?)

There is nothing like the thrill of the hunt for a bargain. This year, I got that thrill right here on campus in the Clark Recreation Center at the annual Wheaton-sponsored community yard sale.

The annual trek home by students means making decisions about what will be packed up and schlepped back and what will be left behind to be tossed into the trash. (When the car is brimming with stuff, suddenly there is not one inch left for those red glitter-covered stilettos that now seem so last year.) Instead of letting perfectly good items go to waste and eventually end up in landfills, the Wheaton community collects them, holds a yard sale, and donates the money to local charities.

This year the Herculean effort, titled “Give and Go,” was led by the offices of Service, Spirituality and Social Responsibility (SSSR), and Residential Life. The biggest champions here were Dean Vereene Parnell, SSSR administrative assistant Patricia Rezendes and Residential Life area coordinator Courtney Ruggles. They led the charge and carried the heavy load (literally and figuratively) of pulling it all together, with the help of a volunteer crew that included Norton High School students, parents and teachers, and Wheaton faculty, staff and students (especially student coordinators Pagna Eam ’13 and Marijose Vila ’13).

Using a 17-foot truck, packed to the brim and unloaded six to eight times over three weeks, they filled Clark Recreation Center with perfectly good refrigerators (more than 20), furniture, lamps, dishes, books, bedding, shoes (including red glitter-covered stilettos), pounds of clothing, and so much more. And they didn’t just dump the stuff on the floor or on tables; they carefully organized it to look like a department store and even “staged” areas to make the goods more appealing. (Think Pottery Barn.)

All the work paid off. They made $3,788.50 to donate to the Norton public schools. And several local charities benefited from the leftovers—Goodwill, American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Planet Aid. And they contributed to our continued sustainability efforts by sparing the environment.

A very exhausted Dean Vereene was asked afterward, was it worth it? “We will definitely do it again,” she said. “From my personal perspective, if we can continue to bring together Wheaton students, faculty and staff and Norton community members of all ages to benefit our shared neighborhood, it will definitely be worth the effort.”

God, I love this place!

This issue of the Quarterly is filled with other reasons why I love Wheaton—students who are following their passions; wonderful professors—like Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus—who are engaged in intriguing research, and alums whose careers seem to take them to such interesting places, including underwater.


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